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Discount Diva: 'Tidying Up' author's advice is a bonanza for thrift stores

Samantha Christmann

Ever since Marie Kondo’s series “Tidying Up” hit Netflix, consumers have been clearing clutter from their homes as if their happiness depends on it. According to Kondo, it does.

Just as she does in her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Kondo teaches people to re-evaluate the material things they keep squirreled away in their homes.

Is that cardigan worth the space it is taking up in your closet and in your mind? There’s only one way to find out: Hold it up to your heart with both hands and close your eyes. Does it spark joy? If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and set it free by donating it to charity.

Thanks to the number of people binge-watching the series, charities have been deluged with donations of high-quality stuff.

Linda Maraszek, a spokesperson for Goodwill of Western New York, joked that Marie Kondo isn’t a real person, she is a fictional character created by Goodwill “to get people to donate half of their things.”

Goodwill puts those donations up for sale in its stores and uses the proceeds to support its workforce training program, which helps people find jobs in the community.

While donations always increase at this time of year, she said, the latest uptick is bigger than usual.

That’s good news for thrift store shoppers like you and me. It’s also good for people who normally might not consider thrift stores when shopping.

“If people are donating the things that aren’t sparking joy in their home, they can spark joy for other people,” Maraszek said.

You know what does not tend to spark joy? Expensive sweaters that don’t fit and still have the tags on them. Never-worn designer jeans that make you feel guilty every time you look at them. Practical stuff like Crock-Pots.

One of the reasons people hang onto stuff is because it’s still like new. Well, the KonMari method doesn’t care how much you spent on something or whether it might come in handy later. All that matters is whether it makes you feel as though you’re falling in love for the first time when you pick it up.

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That means a lot of stuff that was too good to part with in the past is now sitting on thrift store shelves, selling for a fraction of what it cost the first time around.

And it’s all yours for the taking.

Now, just because the thrift stores are filling up with goodies, you shouldn’t rush out and fill your trunk with discounted purchases. That would defeat the purpose of KonMari, and it’s not a frugal thing to do, either.

However, if you’ve been in the market for something – particularly something practical – this influx of new stuff is good news. You’ll likely notice a bigger and better variety of merchandise to choose from.

If people get rid of enough stuff, they won’t need storage anymore, which means you may even snag yourself that most elusive of thrift store finds: shelving.

Savers manager Gary Romyak confirmed it. He said his Hamburg thrift store has filled up with women’s clothing, housewares and books, especially.

And I don’t care what Marie Kondo says. You can never have too many books.

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